Culture Shock: The Overshare

I always took the Midwest for a fairly conservative part of the country. This is obviously due to my complete lack of experience getting to know many people from here or spending any time here. Oh how things have changed. Two months later, I’ve decided I had no idea what kind of cultural shock I was in for. I thought, “Chicago, probably have some funny accents and people will say ‘pop’ instead of ‘soda’.” I was not prepared. Not only does it host the gayest city I’ve ever been in, but also the most open people I’ve come across.

I always thought that I was pretty much an open book. I mean, I answer questions that are asked of me, but don’t go off too much past that. I didn’t think this would ever be considered conservative or prudish, I don’t think it is still, but I feel like it is. I have to say this new feeling of being a prude or overly cautious about my life has stemmed from my experience with my co-workers.

Right now, I’m working part time for a health company in the Chicago Loop. It would be a great company to work for it the CEO didn’t hate jeans (literally, they are allowed to wear jeans 4 days a year, and you have to “make a donation” to the charity they’re raising money for to do that). The people are great though, everyone has been really welcoming and friendly and they put up with my temp stupidity. Also, when I say welcoming, I’m already one of the girls. I go to lunch with them a couple times a week and they dish, with no filter.

The first time I actually noticed it, I was standing at someone’s desk, getting details about a project and all of a sudden I was hearing about her daughter and looking at photos. I mentioned her daughter was very pretty, which is when i got lots and lots of details about, almost everything. I was not prepared, stuff like that must be dragged out of people in CA, usually only with strong drinks happening at the same time. At least around coworkers.

It went on for a good 5 minutes. But I now know her life story, her daughter’s, her ex husband’s, her mom’s and her brother’s…I think she stopped for breath once. When I share stories about my family, or show pics of my nephew or niece, I don’t follow with the story of their lives (even though they’re real good). My chats don’t usually go from weather to baby daddy drama (not that I have a baby daddy, but you get the idea). While I appreciate the openness, it’s something I’m going to have to get used to.

I don’t think I noticed before since I the people I’ve gotten to know are friends and becoming better friends. So obviously we share those kind of things for laughs, drama in the process of building of friendship. But it took a long time before I sauntered over to someone’s desk at my old job, plopped myself down and had a chat about things going on outside of work. Probably because once someone started talking, you could hear people stop typing and listening from a few cubes away. Oh small offices…

I guess I just kind of lumped the midwest in with the South for as long as I can remember. I was raised being overly polite and taught to share gossip behind people’s back. I also try and make sure I trust someone before they get the intimate details of my life. Maybe the baby daddy drama isn’t considered an intimate detail? Maybe I think my life stories are more intimate than they actually are. In any case, I’ll keep them to myself for now. Besides, if they still haven’t figured out I’m a raging homo (and seriously, lunch the other day proved that), I don’t know if they’re ready for the puzzle that is my backstory.

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